As things begin to ease after lockdown you can find peace in the activities the Test Valley has to offer – just the thing to help you recharge your batteries. Choose from walking or cycling, fishing activities, a stay close to nature in something a little bit different, learning something new, enjoying the peace of a garden, or simply taking the chance to sample some great local food and drink. Whatever you fancy, you can be sure to return home refreshed and relaxed. Just be sure to check that all the venues mentioned are open and hosting the activities mentioned before you make arrangements!
Outdoor activities are big in the Test Valley. The area is world-renowned for fishing due to the extremely fertile, gin clear conditions of the 40-mile stretch of the famous River Test. The waters are rich breeding grounds for salmon, trout and grayling as well as mayfly. Whinwhstle Fishery is set in 26 acres of beautiful woodland and water meadows and offers 5 spring fed lakes in idyllic surroundings, stocked with different species of fish. You can receive expert tuition for all levels of ability. https://www.whinwhistlecoarsefishery.co.uk/ Fishing Breaks offers you the opportunity to indulge your passion for fly-fishing for trout or learn the skills from scratch. Choose from a Foundation course, Half Day Taster, private tuition, Chalkstream course and adult and child sessions, Family Days and a Kids Camp. The Fishing Camp offers time beside a chalk stream where you can fish and camp to your heart’s content! http://www.fishingbreaks.co.uk/hampshire.html Golden Pond Fishery’s one acre lake has 16 well-spaced swims, including a swim suitable for wheelchairs. The fishery is great for both the beginner and more experienced angler. Golden Pond is heavily stocked with mixed coarse fish. https://goldenpondfishery.co.uk/
You can unleash your inner Tarzan at Treerunners, an exciting, challenging and sometimes demanding activity that uses zip lines, snowboards and tarzan swings as well as other challenges to get you from tree to tree. Set in a beautiful oak forest, it is the perfect day out for families, parties, other celebrations and groups of all kinds. Tree Runners is hoping to open for the summer holidays. www.treerunners.com/
Immerse yourself in the beauty of the area’s gently rolling hills, wide open spaces, woodland, nature reserves and riverside flats by taking hikes along trails like the Test Way, a wonderful long distance walk which runs the length of the River Test, passing through picturesque villages and countryside along the way. https://www.hants.gov.uk/thingstodo/countryside/walking/testway). Or there’s the Clarendon Way, a 24-mile walk between Winchester and Salisbury Cathedrals, which takes in some of the best parts of the Test Valley https://www.hants.gov.uk/thingstodo/countryside/walking/clarendonway, the Monarch’s Way, a long-distance footpath that follows the escape route taken by King Charles 11 in 1651 after being defeated at the Battle of Worcester http://www.monarchsway.50megs.com/about.html, the disused railway line –the Sprat and Winkle– between Andover and Redbridge, Southampton. http://www.railwayramblers.org.uk/news/15news/VH-PDF-Sprat%20and%20Winkle%20Leaflet%202010.pdf And the Ladies Walk, forming part of a pre-Roman track where 121 trees were planted to commemorate the wedding of HRH The Prince of Wales to Princess Alexandra of Denmark in 1863. https://www.testvalley.gov.uk/communityandleisure/naturereserves/ladies-walk
Besides long distance trails there are many opportunities for short circular walks, dog friendly routes, family rambles, walks in nature reserves and woodland. https://www.bing.com/search?q=test+valley+get+out+and+walk And the National Trust looks after some beautiful areas just perfect for walking and observing wildlife – like Stockbridge Down https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont/features/the-estate-at-mottisfont Saddle up and take advantage of the many routes on offer for cyclists of all levels of ability – from flat and leisurely rides along a disused railway line to more energetic and hilly mountain biking. Try road cycling around some of Hampshire’s most picturesque villages such as Wherwell, Chilbolton, Longstock and Longparish. Here you’ll find thatched cottages, welcoming country pubs and pretty bridges criss-crossing the River Test. https://www.visit-hampshire.co.uk/cycling/cycle-routes/test-valley Harewood Forest, near Andover, is the second largest ancient woodland in Hampshire. It’s a forest with ancient oak trees, deers, owls and other flora and fauna. It’s also the site of Dead Mans Plack, a 19th century monument to Earl Athelwold of Wherewell, who was allegedly killed nearby by his love rival! It’s also the perfect place for a special get-together – a wedding, birthday party, festival or a corporate event in the open air. Visit www.harewoodforestevents.com/
to find out more.
Ever thought of Alpaca Walking? At Cholderton Rare Breeds Farm you can book an alpaca walk and experience the beautiful calmness of the animals and see stunning vineyards, farmland, woodlands and countryside along the way. In the hour’s experience you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about these amazing animals and where they come from. Please call (01980) 629438 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to check availability prior to booking. https://choldertoncharliesfarm.com/farm-activities/
It’s been proven that being amongst nature in a garden can promote wellbeing and there are plenty to choose from here. National Trust’s historic house Mottisfont is set in beautiful riverside gardens. Explore the kitchen garden and walled garden with its wonderful borders and National Collection of pre-1900 old-fashioned roses, which reach their peak in June. Wander along the banks of the River, too. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont Enjoy a leisurely stroll round Houghton Lodge Gardens, overlooked by Houghton Lodge, an 18th Century Grade II* listed Gothic Cottage Orné, idyllically set above the tranquil waters of the River Test. There are both formal and informal gardens, a traditional kitchen garden, an orchid house, topiary dragon and peacock garden and more. https://houghtonlodge.co.uk/explore-our-gardens/ Sir Harold Hillier Gardens is world famous for its arboretum and gardens, set over 180 acres, with year-round appeal. It’s home to National Collections, over 400 Champion Trees, many thousands of plants from temperate regions and lots to keep children amused.
https://www.hants.gov.uk/thingstodo/hilliergardens You can wander round and sit in the gardens of King John’s House (which dates back to the 13th century) – a peaceful haven in the centre of Romsey. And on certain dates Longstock Water Gardens are open with woodland walks and waterside paths set in around 6 acres.
You can even stay close to nature. Take Gambledown Farm, with its converted barns and African safari style tents, where you can get a taste of real country and farm life and enjoy quality homegrown produce, see and learn about the animals and the work of the farm. The farm also runs regular yoga retreats. https://www.gambledownfarm.co.uk/ The Meadow Glamping has 3 unusual glamping units in addition to rooms in the house – Wild Billy’s, an original showman’s wagon and an authentic travelling gypsy home dating back to 1890, Mary’s Place, a beautiful boutique bohemian hideaway and the Magic Rat, the newest addition in the form of a 23ft refurbished narrowboat. These are set in 2 acres of grounds which include a lake and tennis court. https://www.themeadowglamping.co.uk/ Michelmersh Manor Farm is a family run mixed arable, dairy and sheep. At the centre of this working farm are 3 self-catering properties steeped in history – ‘Bluebells’, ‘The Manor’ ‘Foxglove’ as well as 2 shepherd’s huts – offering the ideal base for families or couples wishing to experience and explore the outdoor farm life. https://michelmershmanorfarm.com And Chilworth Woodland Retreat, nestled amongst ancient woodland offers guests the chance to relax and soak up the beautiful natural surroundings. Stay in a beautiful shepherd’s hut or the mini log cabin. All come complete with their own hot tub and cosy log burner. https://www.chilworthwoodlandretreat.co.uk/
What better way to improve your wellbeing than by learning something new?
The Sheepshed Gallery at Weyhill, near Andover runs workshops teaching participants new arts and crafts skills or enabling them to improve existing creative talents. https://sheepshedgalleryandtearoom.com/ At the Workshop Gallery in Andover you can learn to make your own jewellery. https://www.ruthfacey.co.uk/ Whitchurch Silk Mill runs arts and crafts workshops https://whitchurchsilkmill.org.uk/and Hampshire Art Studio offers year-round creative courses and will be holding 2 weeks of summer workshops in August. https://hampshireart.studio. And you can learn more about history at museums as diverse as Army Flying Museum, dedicated to the fascinating history of army aviation, https://www.armyflying.com/ Andover Museum and the Museum of the Iron Age, which tells the story of the town and the surrounding area from prehistoric times to the present day https://www.hampshireculture.org.uk/andover-museum and King John’s House and Museum in Romsey, displaying 750 years of history. https://kingjohnshouse.org.uk/
After lockdown you surely deserve a treat. Enjoy great meals in a range of traditional pubs and inns or restaurants as well as tearooms, cafes and bakeries serving treats of all kinds throughout the Test Valley. If wine’s your guilty pleasure the Test Valley lays claim to several quality vineyards. You can buy the wines from different outlets throughout the Test Valley, including farm shops, village stores, Farmers Markets, some pubs and others. You can also order direct from some of the vineyards. www.vineyardsofhampshire.co.uk/events And you can also discover the artistry behind gin at Bombay Sapphire distillery at Laverstoke. https://distillery.bombaysapphire.com/
For more information about visiting the area visit https://www.testvalley.gov.uk/communityandleisure/tourism/